WORLD champion? Tick. European champion? Tick. Paralympic gold medallist? When Terry Bywater heads to Tokyo next summer, the wheelchair basketballer will only have one thing in his sights.

Having helped his Great Britain squad claim the World title last year, Bywater had a double reason to celebrate as the European Championships drew to a close in Poland last weekend.

Competing in his tenth European finals, Bywater scored 19 points as the Great Britain team claimed a 75-52 win over Spain to reclaim their European crown.

The Teessider had also been in fine form in the semi-final, top-scoring with 34 points in a 94-81 win over Turkey, with Britain’s victory in the last four guaranteeing them a place at the Paralympics.

Beating the best in Europe is a notable achievement, but the hope amongst the British squad is that an even bigger success is still to come. A Paralympic gold is the one thing missing from Bywater’s CV – he has three bronze medals from Athens, Beijing and Rio – but the British team appears to be peaking at just the right time to put that right next summer.

“We’re absolutely buzzing to be European champions,” said Bywater, who was born without a tibia and fibula in his left leg, which was amputated when he was two. “Winning the World title was brilliant, and now we can say we’re European champions too.

“There’s a massive belief in this group, but we want to get even better. We keep on improving, and now we can look forward to the Paralympics knowing we’ve guaranteed our place. We had two big goals when we went out to the Europeans – come back as champions and get a qualification place for Tokyo. Happily, we managed to do both.”

Bywater’s personal performances were especially impressive, with his scoring in both the semi-final and final playing a major role in his side’s success.

Having benefited from the Teessider’s shooting skills in the semi-final, head coach Haj Bhania called on him again in the final, with Britain dominating from the early stages as they outplayed their Spanish opposition.

A polished first-half performance left the GB team 14 points ahead at the interval, and they stretched even further clear in the second period, eventually triumphing by 25 points.

There were some eye-catching individual displays, but the strength of the collective was emphasised by the way in which every single member of the squad took the court at some stage in the final.

“I was really pleased with the way I played,” said Bywater. “I think the basketball Gods must have been with me. To score 34 points in the semi-final and then 19 in the final was amazing.

“We’ve got a really good group and a really good team. Now, we just have to keep on improving ahead of the Paralympics.”

Britain were the only nation to remain undefeated throughout the whole of the European Championships, an impressive achievement given they tackled eight matches over the course of the competition.

There were group victories over Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and Germany, with Britain topping the 90-point mark on two separate occasions as they flexed their collective muscles ahead of the knockout rounds.

France provided the opposition in the quarter-finals, with the British team producing arguably their most polished performance of the whole event as they cruised to a 93-51 win.

“We put in some really good performances,” said Bywater. “It’s absolutely brilliant to have won.”